Thoughts on Privacy and Adoption

My kiddos when Ethan and Anna were first home.

I’ve been thinking a lot about privacy and our kids and our adoptions. Many, many people have told me to write a book about our adoptions, and the fact is that I could write a kick butt book about that. It would make you laugh and cry. And it would definitely put out in the world parts of their history and struggles that I’m pretty sure they would not want to be made public. And my loyalty always has to be with my kiddos. Because the fact is that my story is not just my story – it’s impossible to tell just “my story” without also telling parts of the stories that aren’t mine to tell. And my kids have enough to deal with.

When we first adopted Noah, I blogged a lot about it. I blogged the trip and all our firsts and things leading up to it, etc. And I had so many people tell me that they loved that blog and felt they’d visited China and come along with us, etc. And looking back, I think I totally overshared. I blogged for Ethan and Anna’s too, and it was less, but there were still some very personal things in there. Looking back again, I overshared. And I think this is where my writer’s block has been coming from (I’ve been struggling for a while). The more I know and love my kids, and the more I research and try to understand the feelings of adult adoptees and all the complication of it all (and trust me, it is really complicated), the more I feel I can share almost nothing.

And here’s why that is so hard. My kids are amazing. Like, amazing. And hurt. And they needed a family. And watching us become a family has been one of the greatest miracles of my life. I have been absolutely amazed at God, awed by the bravery of my children, and stunned by both the fragility and the resilience of the human heart. The changes are literally mind-boggling, and the stories are incredible. And if I shared it, I know that there are others who would be made braver by our story and who might then go on to adopt other children who need families and who might be a miracle in those people’s lives. And I want that. I want it so much. The children we left behind haunt me, so much that there are times I have to deliberately not think about them or it’s just too much for me. And those children were my children. Those children have all the potential and beauty and humor and love and fun that my children have. They are just children, and they don’t deserve what life has given them.

But sharing our story could hurt my children. In fact, I’m certain it would. I could tell you a heart-breaking story one of my kids whispered to me in the dark recently, and how we are trying so hard to redeem that story and make it something beautiful now, and it would touch your heart, but I would be betraying the trust that was in that whisper in the dark. That trust that came literally years after becoming their mama. And that can’t happen.

I think about the viral video of the boy from Australia who was being bullied for his dwarfism and wanted to die. I don’t condemn that mom – I’m sure she was at her wit’s end and just wanted people to see the effect of bullying and educate their children. And many feel-good moments came out of that. A GoFundMe to send them to Disneyland, a shout-out from Hugh Jackman, getting to lead the National Rugby League’s Indigenous All Stars team onto the field. But does he need a trip to Disneyland? When that’s over, will it make up for 25 million people seeing one of his most private, most vulnerable moments? And will it make up for him being associated with that very painful moment for the rest of his life?

I know that what I post on social media is seen by the wider world, but it’s also seen by our neighbors and by the kids my kids go to school with. I don’t want them to be defined by their struggles or their pasts. I don’t want them to Google themselves one day and resent their mom for sharing what they would have kept private.

So, I don’t see a book coming. I don’t know how to do it. Right now, I share some of my kids’ stories at my events, and they know what I share and have “approved” those stories, but even that makes me nervous that some day they will wish I hadn’t. I guess if I’m going to err, I’d rather err of the side of caution and loyalty to my children. So, let’s all pray that people’s heart are softened without the very personal story, and together we can help all the kids who are waiting to be their family’s miracle.

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